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Pivotal Tracker 1 review: An activity tracker that costs less than dinner

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The main interface consists of six large colorful circles with summaries of your recent activities: sleep, calorie burn, weight, steps, active time and hydration. Tapping on one of these fields will bring you to a submenu with more detailed information, along with goal completion status and comparisons and averages from the past week.

For example, the sleep submenu contains a graph that shows my quality of sleep from the past night, including how many time I woke up and the amount of deep sleep I achieved. This is followed by a second chart comparing my sleep cycles from the past week, along with my weekly average, my average from the previous week, my longest sleep and how my average compared to that of my friends.

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Similar to other trackers available, the Tracker 1 includes a silent alarm feature. This can be set up from the app to recur every day or only on specific days of the week. Once it's set, you will be woken up with a gentle vibration that won't disturb your partner. Unfortunately, only one alarm can be set a time, which made me a little anxious that I wouldn't feel it and oversleep.

Below the large circles there is a field that shows your remaining battery life and the time and date of your last sync. If you keep scrolling down the dashboard you will come to the Hydration and Weight sections. We were told that we must manually enter our hydration level and current weight into the Pivotal Living app, however it wasn't initially clear how to do this.

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I clicked everywhere I could and explored every submenu. I still couldn't figure it out. You will notice a three vertical dot icon on the left-hand side of both the Hydration and Weight section. It turns out that you must drag your finger from left to right to add the amount of ounces you drank and your current weight. In hindsight it's convenient and simple, but was initially impossible to figure out.

To conserve battery life, the band doesn't automatically sync to your smartphone. To initiate a sync, you must press the button on the tracker and pull down on the app screen. For the Android version, there is a sync button you must press in the app.

At the bottom of the dashboard there is an option to view your network and profile. Pivotal is positioning its app as a social destination. Each user has a profile page where they can add their picture, name, gender, birthday, height, and location. If you are feeling bashful, there are privacy settings to keep your profile out of sight.

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The profile page is also where you can set goals for your sleep, hydration, activity, steps, weight and calories burned. In addition to being able to set daily goals, an interesting feature is having the ability to set day-specific goals, something I haven't seen before. This is great since I usually want to sleep more on the weekend than I do during the week.

The second part of the social aspect is found in the network page. Owners can create teams with friends and other users to help each other walk that extra mile. Teams can set group goals and even send messages to each other through a private message board.

Pivotal wants to be your health everything. They want you to use their tracker and their app, which is why the Pivotal Living app doesn't integrate with third-party options. You can't sync with Apple's Health app, RunKeeper or MyFitnessPal, and that's a shame because the Pivotal Living app doesn't yet include food tracking.

What's the catch?

Almost everyone I spoke to about the tracker have had the same reaction: what's the catch? The total cost is $15 when you add in shipping. That $15 gets you one year of access to the mobile app. If you enjoy your time with the band and app, you can pay $12 after one year to gain another year of access to the mobile app. Pivotal will even include another band with your renewed subscription (I assume you have to pay another $3 for shipping), although you can continue using your existing one.

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There are no hidden charges and no plans to increase the price. Even if the company releases a new tracker, you will be allowed to upgrade at the end of your yearly cycle for no extra charge, that's according to CEO David Donovick.

But what happens if you decide not to renew your subscription? You can continue using the Tracker 1, although some features won't be available. The silent alarm, move alerts, activity goals, sleep data and past information about your activities will be no longer be accessible. In short, it's everything found in the mobile app. You can still view data about steps, distance and calories burned right on the device itself.

Conclusion

The Pivotal Tracker 1 can track your steps, distance, calories burned and sleep. It has features, such as the silent alarm and move alerts, that bigger name competitors have and even some (hydration tracking) they don't have.

The tracker isn't waterproof, the distance tracking isn't very accurate and there are some build-quality issues. The value of the device, however, greatly outweighs the flaws it has. The truth of the matter is that a lot of people wear a fitness tracker for a few months and then it ends up on their dresser or in a desk drawer. Pivotal Living gives those users who are on the fence about buying an activity tracker a functioning device for the less than the price of dinner.

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